Monday, June 21, 2010

Shouldn't the press stop calling the Brady Center for its opinion?

Read a national-interest news story on firearms law and chances are high that the reporter solicited and quoted the opinion of the "Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence" (formerly Handgun Control, Inc). In the early '90s, when they got the Brady Bill passed and signed into law and stood prepared to destroy American firearms culture and support for RKBA altogether by defining each part of a firearm as a "firearm" and restricting private ownership to 20 such "firearms", or even in 2000, when the group raised over $1.6MM to attempt to influence that year's elections, this made some sense.

Nowadays, it's not too much of a stretch to claim that the Brady Campaign has effectively zero support. To date in the 2010 fiscal year, the Brady Campaign (PAC) has raised only $2,500, putting them in the ballpark of e.g. a typical Prohibition Party presidential campaign or Libertarian Party candidate for anarcho-capitalist dogcatcher.

To be fair, the "Brady Center"--the side of the operation that isn't a PAC or a lobby group, brought in nearly $3 MM in 2008, according to the Better Business Bureau. For a "national" organization, that's pathetic. The ACLU Foundation (the non-lobbying side of that operation), to provide a point of contrast, brought in over $66 MM in 2007 and the National Parks Conservation Association raised $61 MM. Things have gotten so bad for the Brady Bunch that they're having a "fire sale" of sorts, selling a mailing list they previously told members they'd keep private.

The Brady Center's political Brady Campaign has withered away to nothing, and the "educational" Center itself was in 2008 operating on what, for a national organization of its visibility and former prestige, was a shoestring budget. (If the trend in Campaign fundraising correlates to that of the Center, one expects that this year the Center will see far less than $3 MM.) It isn't unfair to say that support for the Brady Campaign is nonexistent and that the Center isn't far behind; only a single donor was willing to pay the Campaign to do what it does, and the Center is able to raise but a minuscule sum.

Phoning Paul Helmke for a quote when writing a firearms-law news article is like giving equal time to a third-party paper candidate when covering local politics or phoning a conspiracist, unscientific crank when writing a piece on climate change. It's false balance. That a group that has faded to nonexistence gets equal time is a sign of bias against RKBA in the press if there ever was one. The Brady Campaign and Brady Center are no longer newsworthy and should not be treated as such.

Hat tip to Alan Korwin for the $2500 number--it took a bit of searching to find the source.

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